Fact Sheet Display

55th Wing History

Offutt Air Force Base's 55th Wing is ACC's largest wing composed of 6 groups, 31 squadrons and 3 detachments located worldwide, employing 48 aircraft, including 12 models of 3 different types. Mission responsibility includes the Air Force's most diverse flying operation supporting worldwide dominance in intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), electronic attack (EA), command and control (C2), Presidential support, nuclear treaty verification, and precision awareness to national leadership and warfighters across the spectrum of conflict any time, any place. As host unit for Offutt AFB, the wing provides infrastructure support to over 50 associate units, including US Strategic Command and AF Weather Agency. The Fightin' Fifty-Fifth has made significant contributions to the defense of our great nation for more than 50 years. Since earning honor and distinction for its combat record during World War II, the wing has since amassed an admirable record of achievements.

The 55th Wing traces its lineage to the 55th Pursuit Group constituted on 20 November 1940 and activated 15 January 1941, at Hamilton Field, California. Redesignated the 55th Fighter Group in May 1942, the group departed for England on September 4, 1943. Assigned the mission of escorting 8th Air Force bombers on daylight bombing raids over Europe, the group completed its combat tour of duty with a distinguished record in seven campaigns, garnered two campaign medals, and two Distinguished Unit Citations. The 55th was the first operational P-38 unit in the European theater as well as the first US Army Air Force unit to fly over Berlin. With more than 600 combat missions, the group destroyed over 400 enemy aircraft while damaging more than 100. The group fostered 16 aces that were credited with 90 air-to-air victories. Its last mission flew on 21 April 1945 and inactivation occurred on 20 August 1946.

Less than a year later, the group reactivated as the 55th Reconnaissance Group at MacDill Field, Florida with assignment to Strategic Air Command (SAC), operating the RB-17. In June 1948, the 55th transferred operations to Topeka (later named Forbes AFB) Field, Kansas, and became the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Group, converting to the RB-29. On 1 November 1950, the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (SRW) activated and was bestowed with the awards and honors of the 55th Reconnaissance Group at Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico. Then in 1952, the wing returned to Forbes AFB, Kansas and converted to
RB-50s. The wing formally assumed a global strategic reconnaissance mission in 1954 and transited to the RB-47E "Stratojet."

For the 55 SRW, the decade of the '60s was history making. On 1 July 1960, the wing gained worldwide attention when an RB-47 was shot down over the Barents Sea, while in 1962, the 55 SRW provided significant reconnaissance information during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The 55th SRW moved to Offutt AFB, Nebraska, in August 1966. That same year the 55th's 38th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron assumed responsibility for SAC's airborne command and control system. The 2nd Airborne Command and Control Squadron inherited this mission after activation on April 1, 1970. The 1st Airborne Command and Control Squadron, flying E-4A aircraft, transferred to the 55th on November 1, 1975, bringing with it the National Emergency Airborne Command Post. On March 1, 1986, the 55th SRW became the host unit at Offutt after the inactivation of the 3902nd Air Base Wing.

Through the 1980s the 55 SRW continued its worldwide operational missions and gained host responsibility for Offutt AFB in 1986. Operationally, the wing continued to perform its missions in support of the US defense against the WARSAW Pact, but also supported US operations in regional contingencies. These operations included Operation URGENT FURY in Grenada, Operation ELDORADO CANYON in Libya, and Operation JUST CAUSE in Panama. The wing deployed to the Persian Gulf on August 8, 1990, and began 24-hour-a-day reconnaissance of the region for Central Command Commander Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, under Operation DESERT SHIELD. At the start of Operation DESERT STORM, January 18, 1991, the wing continued to provide real-time information to theater commanders and remains there yet today. The 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing became the 55th Wing on September 1, 1991, to reflect the wing's performance of a diversity of missions. When SAC disestablished and Air Combat Command (ACC) established, the wing transferred to ACC and gained its fifth operational location.

Growing yet again, the 24th Reconnaissance Squadron at Eareckson AFB, Shemya, Alaska, joined the 55th with its Cobra Eye and Cobra Ball missions. On April 1, 1993, the 55th Wing took operational control of the 11th Airlift Flight. The 11th ALF flew operational airlift missions in support of the commander of the United States Strategic Command and transported high-ranking military, Department of Defense officials, and members of Congress. This unit has since inactivated and the mission has reverted back to Air Mobility Command. The 2nd ACCS also inactivated in 1994 with its mission transferring to the 7th Airborne Command and Control Squadron. Likewise, the 24 RS inactivated in 1994 and its mission transferred to the newly activated 45th Reconnaissance Squadron. Also in 1994, the 1st ACCS National Emergency Airborne Command Post was renamed the National Airborne Operations Center to reflect the addition of a support role to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In October 1998, the 55th Wing transferred control of the EC-135 LOOKING GLASS mission to the United States Navy's TACAMO aircraft and the 7th Airborne Command and Control Squadron, which flew the EC-135 LOOKING GLASS aircraft, inactivated. In September 1999, the 338th Combat Training Squadron was activated and assigned to the 55th Operations Group. Additionally, in March 2000, the wing received its 16 RIVET JOINT aircraft.

In 2002 the 55th Electronic Combat Group and its EC-130H Compass Call aircraft at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, was assigned to the Wing, incorporating the role of the United States Air Force's premier Electronic Attack platform. Today the wing conducts operations from Offutt AFB, Nebraska; Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona; Kadena AB, Japan; RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom; Souda Bay Naval Support Activity, Crete; and other locations around the world. The 55th Wing is the largest wing in Air Combat Command and the second largest in the Air Force.